Michigan’s Lack of Chicken Tender Chain Restaurants is a Serious Problem
I've lived in the Mitten State for just under a year, and I've had one major gripe with this state that will not be resolved soon enough because it simply can't be resolved tomorrow. It's not the driving. It's not the snow. It's not calling soda 'pop'.
It's the lack of chicken tenders.
Chicken tenders are the backbone of our society as Americans. Coincidentally, there are not enough chicken tenders in Michigan.
Specifically, I'm talking chicken tender chain restaurants. Don't give me any nonsense about Dairy Queen or, I don't know, Popeyes having chicken tenders. And no, I don't want to get tenders from Meijer and make them at home.
No, I mean the pristine, crème de la crème chicken tenders chains are simply not here.
Zaxby's? Nope. Raising Cane's? Nope. Bojangles? Nope.
The Holy Grail of Chicken Tenders: Slim Chickens? Nope.
It's blasphemous and immoral for at least a portion of these restaurants to simply not to be available across the state.
Zaxby's has 936 locations across our wonderful country and not a stinkin' one of them is in Michigan. How am I going to exercise my freedom as an American to have both chicken tenders and buffalo wings in the same meal with a healthy side of fries and a slice of toast washed down by my favorite Coke products without a Zaxby's within a 200-mile radius?
Ethically and properly, I can't, to put it bluntly.
Listen, I lived nearly the first 28 years of my life in Alabama. On every street corner was a church and directly across from that church was a chicken tender restaurant. Specifically and most recently, I lived in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide). In Tuscaloosa there are six (6!) chicken tender chain restaurants (two of them were local to Alabama) and three of them had two locations. Tuscaloosa is like a third of the size of Ann Arbor (I'm guesstimating here).
I've been to Ann Arbor. I love Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor doesn't have any chicken tender chains though. And it's infuriating.
Granted I would jokingly complain about all the chicken tender chains in Alabama, but now that I have none to choose from, lunch is just worse. Plain and simple.
I'll give Michigan one positive spin on this whole thing: there are far more local restaurants than I've ever been accustomed to here in Michigan no matter where you look. That creates a lot of variety. But, being a newcomer, it's not that familiar comfort of walking into an established chain with your preferred sauces and styles for a simple chicken tender lunch.
For instance, I could be wrong, but there is nowhere in Michigan that I can get something comparable to Slim Chickens' signature honey BBQ sauce shaken chicken tenders with fries and Slim's sauce. It's a delicacy that I have been missing for nearly a year of my life.
There is hope for the future, however.
Slim Chickens was previously only on campuses (Oakland and Central Michigan universities) in Michigan before, but now 25 stand-alone restaurants are going to open in Southeast Michigan (that doesn't do me a lot of good here in Southwest Michigan, but I make enough trips to the east side to chalk it up as a win.) It's a start, and about as good a start as I could ask for.
I don't know who I should beg to in order for Zaxby's to follow suit, but this is me begging. Michigan needs more chicken tender chains.